34 in 34: Evansville Thunderbolts
August 9, 2015
The 34 in 34 series will feature an in-depth look into all 34 teams in the NA3HL for the 2015-16 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 34 in 34 goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all 34 head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2015-16 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2014-15 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 34 in 34 will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
2014-15 Record: n/a
2014-15 Playoffs: n/a
Head Coach: Scott Fankhouser
2015-16 Division: Midwest
One of the more exciting stories of the off-season was the announcement of the expansion Evansville Thunderbolts. A new member of the Midwest Division, the announcement was met with much pomp and circumstance and positive feedback from the community. It will be the first team ever in the NA3HL from the state of Indiana. The owners of the Thunderbolts, are not unfamiliar to the NA3HL, as Total Package Hockey (TPH Hockey), who also owns the Point Mallard Ducks, are the operators of the new Thunderbolts team.
The next step for the Thunderbolts was to hire a head coach and they have appeared to hit the mark in former NHL goalie Scott Fankhouser. “I think it was an easy choice to come and coach in a situation like this, first and foremost because of the ownership group in TPH Hockey. Their name in amateur hockey goes a long way and they do things professionally. I subscribe to their #1 philosophy, which is the development and the promotion of players in a team-oriented concept,” said Fankhouser. “I think I was also sold on the NA3HL and where the league stands in the junior hockey landscape. They are doing the right things to promote their players and competitively, I consider it the best.”
The main camp for the Thunderbolts isn’t for another week, but Fankhouser has some goals in mind for the club. “My priority is 100% development,” said Fankhouser. “The winning and losing takes care of itself and our division is going to be very challenging. As an expansion team, the priority is getting these players to buy into a system that is going to challenge them and make them better. I like a defensive style of hockey with an emphasis of being strong first in your own zone and the neutral zone. We have to understand how to take care of the puck and be physical and relentless. If we simply focus on offense and scoring goals, we will never have a chance for success. We have to learn to be a team that takes care of our own end first and can transition that into offense.”
Fankhouser already has commitments from several players, but he said that it had to start with defense and goaltending. “I think it starts with defenseman who can more the puck, skate well and be physical,” said Fankhouser. “We have to be able to get the puck out of our own zone. I want to win games 2-1, 3-2 where we can look back and say that defensively we were at our best.”
The Thunderbolts already have a slew of players committed to the team led by local player Jon Grimm, who spent last season with the Texas Jr. Brahmas in the NA3HL and had 18 points. Defenseman Triston Theriot is an NAPHL grad that Fankhouser also speaks highly of. Other players include goalie Bryson Linenburg and forward Zack Faith, who are both local products.
Next up in the 34 in 34 series: Gillette Wild